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Everyone knows what city someone is talking about when they refer to the "Windy City". Chicago hosts a world of ethnic and religious diversity, world-class educational institutions and shopping, plus commerce and industry enveloped within incomparable architecture. Most cities pale in comparison to this urban enclave whose stunning skyline erupts from the western shores of Lake Michigan.

Chicago got its most famous nickname in 1893, when, after growing exasperated with the long-winded boastings of the city's politicians, Charles Dana, editor of the New York Sun, dubbed it 'the Windy City.' Because of its strategic location, Chicago became a hub for roads, canals, railways and airplanes. Indeed, this transport web made Chicago famous. In the 1920s, during the Prohibition, gangsters like Al Capone and police adversaries like Eliot Ness made it infamous.

The Windy City has always prided itself on being a centre for varied culture. All year round, there are festivals, exhibitions, parades and full programs of theatre, dance, art and all types of music, including a world-class symphony.

The famous Art Institute is home to an impressive collection of French Impressionists, as well as American artist Grant Wood's classic work, American Gothic.

Works by René Magritte and Andy Warhol can be found at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Ernest Hemingway was born in the near west suburb of Oak Park, which he described ungenerously as full of 'wide lawns and narrow minds.'

Famous architects such as Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as the Prairie School of Architecture, thrived here. Fittingly, with architecture being perhaps the ultimate combination of industry and art, the world's first steel-framed skyscraper, the Reliance Building (now the Hotel Burnham) was built here.

The modern city focuses on the area known as the Loop, where the raised metropolitan railway (known as the 'El' or 'L') circles the central Downtown business and shopping district. The city stretches north, south, and west, the east side being the lake. Chicago is one of the most culturally diverse cities both in the USA and in the world.
Over 50 languages are spoken here. One can easily gauge the city's multitude of cultures just by checking its list of annual ethnic parades and festivals.

Today, the city's economy no longer relies upon the heavy industries of steel production or meatpacking. Instead, it leans toward communications, information technology and financial institutions as well as research and development both in commerce and in its academic faculties.

Hard-working Chicagoans love sports, both as participants and fans. Many can be seen playing along the lakeshores. In fact, this energy and the lake combine well to represent Chicago in a way quite similar to how the original American Indians thought of it.

They named it 'Checaugou', after the River Checaugou (Chicago River), which flowed into Lake Michigan. The word translates as 'strong' or 'great' and modern-day Chicago certainly lives up to this heritage.

Chicago is a city of contrasts: raging winters and seductive summers, crowded highways and tranquil parks, famous people and friendly folks. It might be called the 'Second City', but its spectrum is second to none.

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